Author Salon Reviews the Lit Scene with Kimberley Cameron
From Author Salon Interviews With Prime Movers In The Literary World
Kimberley Cameron grew up loving books—going to the library was the highlight of her week during her early years. New adventures beckoned behind every spine and now she feels the same way when she reads a manuscript. She wants to fall in love with a writer's words...
She began her literary career as an agent trainee at the Marjel de Lauer Agency in association with Jay Garon in New York. She worked for several years at MGM developing books for motion pictures. She was the co-founder of Knightsbridge Publishing Company with offices in New York and Los Angeles. In 1993 she became partners with Dorris Halsey of The Reece Halsey Agency, founded in 1957. Among its clients have been Aldous Huxley, William Faulkner, Upton Sinclair, and Henry Miller. She opened Reece Halsey North in 1995 and Reece Halsey Paris in 2006. Her associate Elizabeth Evans opened Reece Halsey New York in 2008, and in 2009 the agency became Kimberley Cameron & Associates. She resides and works from Tiburon, California and Paris, France, with many visits to New York to make the rounds of editorial offices.
Kimberley has been a guest speaker at numerous writer's conferences over the years which include but are not limited to: The Maui Writer's Conference, Pacific Northwest, Aspen, Book Passage Mystery, Cape Cod, Kentucky Writer's Retreat, Boise Idaho, San Diego State University, Austin, Texas, Thrillerfest, Left Coast Crime, Bouchercon, and many others. She also attends BEA.
She is looking for exceptional writing in any field, particularly writing that touches the heart, and makes us feel something. She's been successful with many different genres, and especially loves the thrill of securing representation for debut authors. She represents both fiction and nonfiction manuscripts, with the exception of romance, children's books and screenplays.
So many times I feel that initial excitement, only to be let down by the "muddle" of the manuscript. It must keep our attention throughout. A few times a book has gone in a completely different direction and has become another book. In terms of craft, concept and style - it really has to flow. It's a wonderful feeling to forget that you are reading ...
- Kimberley Cameron
Yes, it's true that ebooks have allowed exposure to many authors - but good storytelling will never change. The most successful books in electronic publishing are still successful for a reason - perhaps they just hit a nerve. I'm not going to cite examples, but even if I'm going to help an author publish electronically, I'm only going with publishers that publish the highest quality.
- Kimberley Cameron
AS: You've been a player in this business for a long time. What factors or instincts drive you as a reader and agent to choose to represent one writer's ms over another?
KC: Amazing... 2o years IS a long time...and because this is a subjective business, my tastes have changed over the years. I'm much more discerning than I was when I was a new agent - it's tougher to land my attention, but when a writer does... I'm theirs! When I start reading I always want to fall in love. I want a writer to hold my interest, creatively writing dynamic characters and situations. Sometimes I just can't stop reading and that's the best feeling - also when the manuscript is relatively clean of typos, etc., I know the writer is professional and taking his/her work seriously ( and my time!)
AS: Assuming that the writers in question have made a final cut and can at least do an overall good job of connecting the word dots, what elevated elements of craft or concept or style make your decision easier, or at least enable you to winnow possibilities down to just a few?
KC: So many times I feel that initial excitement, only to be let down by the "muddle" of the manuscript. It must keep our attention throughout. A few times a book has gone in a completely different direction and has become another book. In terms of craft, concept and style - it really has to flow. It's a wonderful feeling to forget that you are reading... when a writer is able to place you in a fictive world that rings true, especially in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror - that's real craft.
AS: Based on our experience, platform and credentials are more important than ever. What role does platform play in your decision these days? Credentials? Does it depend on the genre?
KC: Absolutely depends on the genre - the platform (or marketability) of a non-fiction author is of utmost importance. It's more and more difficult to place an unknown author in the realm of non-fiction. As the web has grown, fiction author's platforms have become more important too, and all authors should have websites. However, voice is still the most important element in fiction and memoir both.
AS: We know that e-books are becoming increasingly popular and changing market dynamics, but has the art of good storytelling changed also or remained a constant? Some e-book authors behave as if they can disregard the principles whenever convenient.
KC: Very good question. Yes, it's true that ebooks have allowed exposure to many authors - but good storytelling will never change. The most successful books in electronic publishing are still successful for a reason - perhaps they just hit a nerve. I'm not going to cite examples, but even if I'm going to help an author publish electronically, I'm only going with publishers that publish the highest quality.
AS: Do you feel the reality of e-books arriving by the droves onto Internet every day are also creating, rather than negating, a real demand for gatekeepers of some type or other to filter, organize and present the work in a manner that provides readers with quality choices? We hear more and more complaints from readers and writers trying to sift through the morass.
KC: And that's just what it is, unfortunately, a morass of books that have not been edited properly, etc. As I just suggested - there is a need for gatekeepers in the world of publishing. And that's why I look for manuscripts of the highest quality I can find - and that's also why my job isn't going to go away. Good publishers, be it traditional or progressive electronic publishers marketing electronic books first, depend on us to bring them great books.
AS: Aside from extant independent publishers who have been around for decades, do you see a middle ground of new e-book-and-POD publishers becoming consistently successful in that realm between major NYC publishers and the larger self-publication outfits? Will they have the marketing punch and distribution to make it happen?
KC: I see and read about new independent publishers popping up like crazy - I spend lots of time investigating and working with them, as well as the old guard. We have to, as it's more and more difficult for a new voice to break into traditional publishing. Will it work? It's part of a necessary experiment to find out if they can. We are at the start of a new paradigm in the publishing model.
AS: Several major publishing houses have requested fulls and partials from Author Salon writers, and your agency also requested various projects. Was there anything about them that stood out from the usual submissions you receive? If so, can you give us an idea? What are we doing right?
KC: Yes! They are professional and prepared - I know they are serious and are trying to make their work the best it can be BEFORE going out to the marketplace. Author Salon is doing a stellar job.
AS: What does the future hold for Kimberley Cameron and her agency?
KC: Many successful books that change the world, or a single person's view that makes the world a better place. I hope to leave a legacy like the one Dorris Halsey left me - that's a pretty big order but I'm working on it and enjoying the ride.
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